Friday, March 25, 2016

FIX OBAMACARE AND SUCK IN MORE BRIBES FROM BIG PHARMA? Once again, Chelsea Clinton is being used by her mother





Once again, Chelsea Clinton is being used by her mother






More free stuff for people who violate our immigration laws! Hillary Clinton and her daughter have teed up a ball for the Republican nominee, whether Trump or Cruz, to hit 400 yards down the fairway.  Just over a week ago, Hillary reversed her f...




Drug prices have also been a theme in the presidential campaign. The Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton, for example, released a campaign advertisement earlier this month attacking the “predatory pricing” of Valeant Pharmaceuticals. Like the congressional hearing, this is all for show. Of all the presidential candidates, Clinton is the top recipient of donations from the pharmaceutical and health products industry, taking in $410,460 according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics.

US drug prices doubled since 2011

By Brad Dixon
18 March 2016
According to a new report by the pharmacy benefits manager Express Scripts, the average price of brand-name drugs increased by 16.2 percent last year. Between 2011 and 2015, branded prescription drug prices have nearly doubled, rising 98.2 percent. Since 2008, the prices have increased by a whopping 164 percent.

Drug spending rose by 5.2 percent in 2015. This was about half the increase seen in 2014, the year of the largest hike since 2003.

The report is based upon prescription use data for members with drug coverage provided by Express Scripts plan sponsors. In assessing changes in plan costs, the report distinguishes between the relative  contributions from changes in patient utilization (e.g. more patients being prescribed the drug) and changes in the unit price of the drug (e.g., price hikes).

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, most drug spending was on traditional drugs (small-molecule, solid drugs) to treat conditions such as heartburn, depression and diabetes. The recent trend has been a shift to specialty drugs. Still, within traditional therapy categories there were significant increases in spending on medications to treat diabetes, heartburn and ulcers, and skin conditions.

Diabetes medications remain the most expensive of the traditional drug categories. Drug spending in this category increased by 14 percent, with the hike being equally influenced by increased utilization of the drugs and rise in unit cost. Three diabetes treatments—Lantus, Januvia and Humalog—were among the top five drugs in terms of spending across all traditional therapy classes.

Although not discussed in the report, an investigation by Bloomberg News last year found evidence of “shadow pricing” by drug manufacturers, where companies raise their prices immediately after their competitors do so. The investigation found that the prices of diabetes drugs Lantus and Lemivir had increased in tandem 13 times since 2009, and evidence of similar shadow pricing for the drugs Humalog and Novolog.

Heartburn and ulcer drugs saw a 35.6 percent increase in spending, almost solely due to the rise in unit cost. Although 92.3 percent of the medications filled in this category were generic, the price unit trend was heavily influenced by the increase in prices of branded drugs such as Nexium, Dexilant and Prevacid.

Treatments for skin conditions also saw a significant increase of 27.8 percent in spending, again due almost completely to rises in the unit costs of the medications. The report notes that these increases occurred for both generic and branded therapies, largely due to industry consolidation through mergers and acquisitions leading to less competition in the market. While 86.3 percent of the drugs filled were generic, many of the generic versions saw sharp increases in unit cost, including the two most widely used corticosteroids, clobetasol (96.2 percent) and triamcinolone (28 percent).

While the overall spending increase for traditional therapy classes was nominal (0.6 percent), the primary factor for the increase in spending came from specialty medications. Specialty medications require special education and close patient monitoring, such as drugs to treat cancer, multiple sclerosis or cystic fibrosis. Spending on specialty drugs rose by 17.8 percent in 2015. The report found that 37.7 percent of drug spending was for specialty drugs in 2015, and the figure is expected to rise to 50 percent by 2018.

Spending in this category was topped by inflammatory conditions—such as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel diseases and psoriasis—which rose by 25 percent, driven by a 10.3 percent increase in utilization and 14.7 percent rise in unit cost. The average cost per prescription in 2015 was $3,035.95. The medications Humira Pen and Enbrel, which captured more than 66 percent of the market share for this class, saw unit cost increases of more than 17 percent.

Spending on oncology therapies increased by 23.7 percent, due to both increased use (9.3 percent) and increased unit cost (14.4 percent). New cancer therapies average $8,000 per prescription and the average cancer regimen is around $150,000 per patient. Between 2005 and 2015, the anti-cancer drug Gleevec, manufactured exclusively by Novartis, has seen its price more than triple, with an annual cost of $92,000. In 2015, the year prior to the drug’s patent expiration, Novartis increased the unit cost of the drug by 19.3 percent. This is a common practice for companies facing patent expiration.
Drug spending on cystic fibrosis treatments rose by a significant 53.4 percent, largely based on increases in unit cost (40.9 percent vs. 13.3 percent from patient utilization). This rise was largely due to use of the new oral combination therapy, Orkambi, which became available in mid-2015. The drug costs more than $20,000 per month.

The report forecasts that between 2016 and 2018 spending will increase annually by 7-8 percent for traditional drugs and around 17 percent for specialty drugs.

The prices of generic drugs have on average decreased, although there are notable exceptions. Pharmaceutical companies like Horizon Pharma, Turing Pharmaceuticals, and Valeant Pharmaceuticals have purchased generic drugs and then significantly hiked their prices.

The report notes the emergence of “captive pharmacies” in 2015 as another factor responsible for higher drug spending. Captive pharmacies are owned or operated by pharmaceutical manufacturers and tend to promote their manufacturer’s drugs, rather than generic or other low-cost alternatives. The report gives as examples the arrangements between Valeant Pharmaceuticals and Philidor Rx Services, and between Horizon Pharma and Linden Care Pharmacy.

The Express Scripts data matches the findings released earlier this year by the Truveris OneRx National Drug Index, which found that branded drugs rose by 14.8 percent in 2015.

Despite the widespread media publicity of the notorious drug price hikes by companies like Turing and Valeant, pharmaceutical companies have continued to inflate prices in 2016, with Pfizer leading the way with an average price hike of 10.6 percent for 60 of its branded drugs.

Workers are rightly outraged at the skyrocketing price of drugs. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll conducted last year found that 74 percent of respondents felt that the drug companies put profits before people.

The political establishment, however, has sought both to exploit this anger for electoral support and to direct it into safe channels that do not disrupt the status quo.

A congressional hearing held in January placed a spotlight on the price-gouging practices of HYPERLINK Valeant Pharmaceuticals and Turing Pharmaceuticals, whose dubious activities were highlighted in a pair of congressional memos. The purpose of the hearing, however, was not probe the underlying causes of the sharp rise in drug prices. Instead, legislators sought to safeguard the profits of the pharmaceutical industry as a whole through a verbal lambasting of the industry’s most notorious culprits.

Drug prices have also been a theme in the presidential campaign. The Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton, for example, released a campaign advertisement earlier this month attacking the “predatory pricing” of Valeant Pharmaceuticals. Like the congressional hearing, this is all for show. Of all the presidential candidates, Clinton is the top recipient of donations from the pharmaceutical and health products industry, taking in $410,460 according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics.

Clinton’s rival, Bernie Sanders, who has stated that he will support Clinton if he loses the Democratic nomination, received $82,094 in donations from the industry. Sanders has proposed a series of minor reforms to address drug prices, such as the re-importation of drugs from Canada, allowing Medicare to negotiate prices with drug manufacturers, and decreasing the patent life of branded drugs.
None of the candidates, including the “democratic socialist” Sanders, challenge the private ownership of the pharmaceutical industry in which everything from research and development and clinical testing to drug pricing and promotion are subordinated to the profit interests of corporations.

Largest Civil Disobedience Action of the Century isn’t Anti-Trump, It’s Pro-Democracy


In an article published here Wednesday, Aaron Klein wrongly characterized Democracy Spring as an “Anti-Trump” campaign organized by “radicals…involved in shutting down Donald Trump’s Chicago rally.”

We want to set the record straight, make it clear where we stand on Trump, and reach out to the all the conservatives who agree with us that big money is corrupting our political system.
First, setting aside any opinions on it, the assertion that the Chicago disruption was the work of Democracy Spring is simply untrue. Over 100 organizations have endorsed Democracy Spring. Their independent actions (and funders – George Soros hasn’t given us a dime) are distinct from our collective effort.
Second, while the leaders, organizations, and the vast majority of participants in Democracy Spring have profound and severe disagreements with Donald Trump, our nonviolent, non-partisan campaign is not a response to him.
Nor is it a response to any single candidate, party, or election. Democracy Spring is a response to the corruption of our entire political system, a system dominated by big money and inaccessible to many Americans who face growing barriers to the ballot box.
No matter who you support for president this year, surely we can all agree that our elected officials should work for all of us – not just wealthy special interests and big campaign contributors. In fact, we know many voters support Trump because he calls out this corrupt system and claims to stand outside of it as a self-financing candidate.
To this, we say: we hear you. The 
system is corrupt. The economy is rigged. Big 
campaign contributors do pull the strings in 
Washington. Working people are right to be 
angry about trade policy and the betrayal of 
the middle class, working families, and the 
poor by an elite establishment that profits 
from the status quo.
But we also challenge Trump supporters to consider a few things. Our corrupt campaign finance system goes far beyond presidential races and will not change by simply electing a president who supposedly can’t be bought. Without serious policy solutions, whoever we elect Commander-in-Chief will still have to deal with 435 members of Congress who are more eager to appease their donors than their own constituents.
Trump has yet to propose any solutions that would ensure every member of Congress and candidate for local and state office in America are elected in a way that makes them, as James Madison wrote, “solely dependent upon the People as whole – not the rich more than the poor.” If our system only allows us to choose between candidates who are bought by billionaires and billionaires themselves, then it is not a democracy. It is plutocracy.
That is why more than 2,600 American patriots have pledged to risk arrest in Democracy Spring, a massive nonviolent sit-in at the U.S. Capitol this April. The campaign will force Congress to choose between putting hundreds of peaceful defenders of the republic in handcuffs, or simply doing their job and passing reforms to fix our broken system.
It’s true Democracy Spring is led by many organizations associated with the left. But there’s no reason it must remain that way. We are a nonpartisan campaign open to all. And conservatives and liberals agree when it comes to the urgent need for solutions to rebalance the system.
Last year, John Pudner, the political strategist who helped lead 
Rep. Dave Brat (R-VA)
’s 2014 upset over former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, launched Take Back our Republic to advance conservative solutions to the problem of money in politics. For example, Take Back supports tax credits for small donations to political candidates to encourage more people to become involved in the political process. The group also supports more disclosure of large donors to ensure voters’ right to know who is trying to influence their vote and their lawmakers.
In a recent column, Richard Painter, President George W. Bush’s chief White House ethics lawyer, explained why the current system fails to address the needs and concerns of conservatives. He wrote, “campaign contributions drive spending on earmarks and other wasteful programs — bridges to nowhere, contracts for equipment the military does not need, solar energy companies that go bankrupt on the government’s dime and for-profit educational institutions that don’t educate.” Moreover, he writes, “campaign contributions breed more regulation” as companies use campaign cash to win special legal advantages over their competitors.
Progressives would disagree on public funding to spur clean energy innovation and the characterization of more regulations as necessarily bad, but we stand fully with Painter on his core point: “[Today’s] system is a betrayal of the vision of participatory democracy embraced by the founders of our country.”
Indeed, there is an opportunity today for progressives and conservatives to stand together to defend our republic and win reform that will let us settle our other differences on an even, open playing field where the best ideas and the broadest support are what count – not the backing of a moneyed elite.
Yet – and allegiance to the values that truly make America a great country demand that we make this crystal clear – Donald Trump’s candidacy is making this kind of unity across differences incredibly difficult. We are a nonpartisan campaign but not an amoral one. We are compelled to speak (and I am confident that I can speak for us all) when I say that Trump’s statements, proposed policies, and threats of violence concerning undocumented immigrants, Muslims, the KKK, protesters exercising their First Amendment rights, and others have crossed a very serious line into the territory of fascism and hate speech.
America is better than this. Conservatives are better than this.
Democracy Spring is a nonviolent campaign and, in the tradition of the civil rights movement, will strive to reach out to our most bitter opponents. We will seek unity with all who agree that every American deserves an equal voice and a government of, by, and for the people. Rather than letting our differences divide us, conservatives and progressives of conscience should come together on this common ground and renew our republic.
Politicians from both parties broke the system. It’s going to take voters from both parties — and independents committed to neither — to force our representatives to fix it.
It’s time to demand that Congress listen to the people and pass common-sense solutions to return our government to us all.
Kai Newkirk is lead organizer of Democracy Spring.

DHS says administration has 'no 

intention' of deporting most illegals

They're not even trying to hide their lack of 

enforcement of immigration law.

The president of the National Border Control Council testified before Congress that a top Homeland Security official told agents that the Obama administration has "no intention of deporting" most illegal aliens.
This "catch and release" policy amounts to a de facto amnesty for the tens of thousands of illegals who jump the border every year.

DHS claims that the policy is in place because immigration courts are clogged up.  So instead of expanding the number of judges and courts, they simply give up and allow the illegals to disappear into the underground.

Washington Times:
Mr. Judd provided his testimony in written answers released Monday by the House Judiciary Committee, saying that even in some criminal cases, agents are ordered to let illegal immigrants go without ever issuing them a Notice to Appear, or NTA, which is what puts them into deportation proceedings.

Mr. Judd said they took their case directly to Deputy Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who told them not to bother.

“Deputy Secretary Mayorkas told us that the Border Patrol needs to focus its resources towards the worst of the worst. He said that by prioritizing those we choose to deport, we will help alleviate the burden on an already overburdened court system,” Mr. Judd recalled.

“He further stated, ‘Why would we NTA those we have no intention of deporting?’ He also stated, ‘We should not place someone in deportation proceedings, when the courts already have a 3-6 year backlog,’” Mr. Juddrecounted. “Since the day of this meeting, we have seen no improvements in our  enforcement efforts and the morale of the Border Patrol agents is one of, if not the lowest in the entire federal government.”

Immigration agents have complained for several years that Mr. Obama has tied their hands, forcing them to release illegal immigrants who should have been easy deportation cases.

Customs and Border Protection, the agency that oversees the Border Patrol, declined to comment on Mr. Judd’s testimony.

But CBP Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske, testifying to Congress earlier this month, brushed aside Mr. Judd’s comments, saying he didn’t believe agents were releasing people without putting them through the full process.

Mr. Kerlikowske said Mr. Judd was “probably not the most knowledgeable organization about what’s actually going on” in the field with Border Patrol agents, and he said agents that object to Mr. Obama’s policies should quit.

The backog of immigration court cases is 

meaningless.  Seventy-five percent of illegals fail 

to show up for their hearings anyway.  And DHS 

has under this policy.

President Obama's policies have made it only 

more difficult to fix this broken system.  Adding 

to the problem by increasing the number of 

illegals is irresponsible governance – which just 

about sums up the president's terms in office.

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